ExchangeAbility Week Spring 2017 - ESN SZIE

Between the 20th and the 26th of March, 40 ESN countries put the everyday struggles of students with disabilities forward, which included Hungary too. ESN SZIE cooperated with many sections from Budapest, offered a chance for both International students and ESN members to put a completely different lifestyle to the touch, while bringing them closer to the burning issue of disability.
Because studying abroad surrounded by a different culture, people and language is already a huge and scary thing to do, it can be even more complicated for students facing disabilities at the same time. Besides their own everyday struggle, they have to face inaccessible environments and different stereotypes. In aware of these challenges, ESN launched the ExchangeAbility project in 2010, which being also the Flagship Project of 2017 was generating extra attention to these kind of programmes through this semester. ESN fights for two aims with ExchangeAbility: providing disabled students accessible association at all level of the work with International students; and in its inverse, ESN wants to increase the number of students facing any kind of disabilities going on exchange while supporting them through travelling and staying. This special project of ESN gets an outstanding regard once in a semester: during the ExchangeAbility Week. The Hungarian sections also took a major part of the celebration and attracted both the International students and ESN members to various programs all week long – and two of them were organised by ESN SZIE.

In Campus Gödöllő’s Katlan Club on Tuesday afternoon March 21st, Krisztina Németh and Zsófia Báthory guided ten enquirers into the world of the everyday struggles caused by disabilities. It truly opened the eyes of the International students and mentors to the condition when those are closed for good. The number got together in a perfect rate and was able to be divided into 5 boys and 5 girls, who answered tons of questions from their first childhood memory till their biggest mistake ever made - while being blindfolded. They all switched talking partners after each questions, but never taking the scarves off their eyes. Although the preliminary nervousness and discomfort quickly turned into an overjoyed chatting, everybody felt relieved as the scarves were taken off and they could connect a face to the voice.

In cooperation with ESN Semmelweis, the Sign Language Course was held in Semmelweis University on Thursday, March 23rd for the second time. The event starting at 6 PM was a huge success as Zsófia Báthory and Nikicca Lilla Nagy were teaching 12 students in Hungarian and 30 students in American sign language. The attendants are now able to sign hello, sorry, bye, numbers, the alphabet, colours and animals to deaf people. This course will surely be organised next semester again, so anybody who wants to learn more gets a warm welcome! During ExchangeAbility Week various programmes were held by other sections in Budapest: on ELTE’s Silent Pub Quiz, and Corvinus’s invisible exhibition the attendees could easily find out what life is like when their sense-organs are taken away from them.
Orsolya Csondor